The AGM was held at the Memorial Hall in Henley in Arden.

The meeting progressed smoothly until the Chief Umpire’s report was read out. This sparked debate about the new penalty point system being introduced to stop people persistently commiting fouls throughout the season. The meeting agreed that the penalty point system was an excellent inea but did not like the fact that there was no right to appeal against a ban. It was felt that an umpire who wants to get a player banned for thirty days (maybe to miss Nationals) could quite easily blow up imaginary fouls to get a player penalty points. However, the Chief Umpire did point out that there is still the right to appeal against individual umpire’s decisions at each tournament, after a match has ended. Therefore, if a player feels they have been treated unfairly and will have penalty points awarded against them they can appeal to the tournament umpire and they can reverse the umpire decision if it is proved to be incorrect. This would mean the foul would be wiped from the score sheets and so would not be there when they are passed on to the Chief Umpire.

The only other significant rule change is the fact that horses which kick or rear will now be sent off straight away rather than given one warning, as was done previously.

The meeting continued and the elections for the Executive positions were held, with the results as follows:

Vice Chairman: Eric Jenkinson
Secretary: Sue Brookes
Director of Coaching: Jane Wright-Roberts
Sports Development Officer: Gail King
Trustee: Caroline Shearing
Players’ Representative, (2 year post): Simon Shearing
Players Representative, (1 year post): Iain Heaton

Next on the agenda were the resolutions proposed by various clubs (see the AGM resolutions document for more details). The first resolution was passed by a majority vote, though only after there was a debate about whether it was necessary and whether there wasn’t a long enough consultation period already, as all rules have one year trial.

Resolution 2 was decided to be overly strict on who could and who could not vote on selection committees, and there were fears that it would result in no one on the committee being able to vote, due to the small nature of the UKPA. Therefore the resolution was withdrawn and the Executive said they would look at it in more detail and reword it.

Resolution 3 was not put to a vote as the UKPA Executive said that it was already being dealt with at the IPC meeting next April.

Resolution 4 was again subject to a debate as people were concerned that a relaxing of the foreign player rule would lead to a return to the days of mass foreign player importation, in order to win the Nationals. This problem reached its height in 1997 when Gunton Park bought in five South Africans to play with Beverley Gough and win the Nationals A grade. However, it was felt that the UK game has advanced so much since then that we need foreign players to challenge our top A graders and also that the UK players would not simply let foreign players come in and take their places nowadays. The resolution was put to a vote and was passed by a majority verdict.

Resolution 6 was previously a post AGM open forum discussion point and it was felt that the meeting could not really decide on these points at this time. Instead, the Executive said that they would go away and look at the proposals in more detail.

After this long and tiring morning the AGM was adjourned for lunch. After lunch there was a fifteen minute preview of Jason Webb’s new promotional DVD. This looks very professional and there is some wonderful acting in from Wayne Henning. The DVD was very well received and it was thought that the money spent on it by the UKPA had been well spent.

The budget for next year was passed without few questions being asked.

The meeting then moved on to the Open Forum. The first point raised here were whether there should be an UKPA Ball next year, as the last two have shown a loss. Other ideas were put forward, such as holding the presentations on the last night of the Nationals. The Executive said it would wait for the clubs and regional representatives to communicate with their members and then listen to what the members wanted.

The next idea was whether people should have personal insurance, instead of insurance through the UKPA, in order to reduce UKPA costs and therefore membership fees. This is something which the Executive said had been looked into in the past but it would look into it again. The idea of weekend meberships was also raised, so that people could come and try the sport for weekend without having to become a fully paid up member of the UKPA.

Dave Brookes announced that a bid was being launched to host the 2011 World Cup in the UK, probably with the support of Ireland. It was made clear that this would be undertaken by a company separate to the UKPA and so would not use up UKPA time and money. The meeting seemed generally happy with the bid, providing it did not distract the UKPA from the key objective of promoting the sport and recruiting new members.

Overall it was a successful AGM, with a high turn out and plenty of discussion and there were some key decisions reached.